Kiss of Death!
Before the start last night some bright spark mentioned that we were the only undefeated team in the whole league. Kiss of Death!
In fact yesterday Clevedon brought a B team that would have given our C team a tougher match than the A team squad they actually brought a week ago. So we knew we were facing a tough time to hold on to our top spot.
First to finish were boards 5 and 6, both of which were halved. Nigel faced a Caro-Kann which turned out to be a rather dull affair, and was all over by move 22. There was more to Oli's game, but so many pieces were exchanged that it came down to a knight and pawn ending where neither side could see a way to make headway.
The top two boards were looking promising for White. Andrew had chosen to give up a pawn against me for quicker development but not really enough compensation while Paul had more space and was building serious pressure against James's position.
The middle boards were too complicated to call. I thought at one point that Neil was heading for a better ending against Chris. Dave had a tricky game against Stuart. But then, in fairly quick succession James was facing too many threats and was finally mated and Dave overlooked a tactic which cost him the exchange and left a position with enemy rooks controlling a key file which he didn't consider worth struggling on in. And then Chris liquidated down to a drawn ending, so that was the match gone.
Which left me last to finish again, once again coming down to a time scramble where fortunately I had the benefit of two minutes to one in the final crucial stages. I managed to skewer Andrew's Queen against his King so that was good enough.
With that victory Clevedon knocked us off our top spot and now lead by the odd point, although we do have a game in hand. It's looking increasingly like a two horse race for the division three championship and the runner's up spot.